august 2014

In terms of reading (and let’s be honest, blogging), August was pretty much a bust. After reading a ton in July, I just didn’t have the mental space for many books this month. And you know what? I’m entirely ok with that. Reading goes in cycles and you just have to go with the flow — or watch too many episodes of The Good Wife and Suits –  until the reading mojo comes back.

When I was actually reading, I finished several good books:

  • Grossman, Lev: The Magician King (fiction)
  • Grossman, Lev: The Magician’s Land (fiction)
  • Hillenbrand, Laura: Unbroken (nonfiction/audio book)
  • Hartwig, Dallas and Melissa: It Starts With Food (nonfiction)
  • Vaughn, Brian K: Y: The Last Man — The Deluxe Edition Book Three (comics)
  • Vaughn, Brian K: Y: The Last Man — The Deluxe Edition Book Four (comics)

I haven’t written about it much yet, but I can say unequivocally that my favorite reading experience of the month was finishing Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy. Getting to read them back-to-back was so great, and Grossman really ended the trilogy on a high note with The Magician’s Land. This series is truly one of my favorites (for intellectual and nostalgic reasons).

A Look to September

September is the craziest month for new releases. I have a ton of them on my shelf that I’m excited about (some that I mentioned last month, and others that I highlighted when I got back from Book Expo America). I also shared some I’m excited about in a fall book preview I wrote as a freelance piece.

At the moment, however, I’m mostly looking forward to the books I packed to take up to the cabin for Labor Day weekend. The weather isn’t looking especially promising, but maybe that’ll mean I get to spend some quality time on the couch with a good book. Here’s what I packed:

  • What Stays in Vegas by Adam Tanner (Sept. 2 from PublicAffairs) — How private corporations are using big data in targeting consumers.
  • City of Lies by Ramita Navai (Sept. 9 from PublicAffairs) —  The true stories of “ordinary people forced to live extraordinary lives in modern Tehran.”
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (Sept. 16 from Nan A. Talese) — New short stories from Margaret Atwood. I adore her so much and Rebecca at Book Riot raved about this one. I can’t wait!
  • This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki – I had this one out from the library earlier this summer, but didn’t get to read it. I want to remedy that this weekend.
  • Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat by Melissa Joulwan — I’m six days into my Whole30 and I’m looking for more recipe ideas.

I feel like I need one more book, maybe some meaty fiction, but I can’t think of what off the top of my head. I’ll have to review my shelves one more time before we hit the road later today and see what catches my eye.

What books are you looking forward to in September?

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I am just getting into reading more comic books, and I know I have ComiXology to thank for it.

sagaComiXology is a “cloud-based digital comics platform” that I use to buy and read digital comics. I first started using ComiXology in April when the first three trade editions of Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Williams went on sale ahead of the Readathon. I wanted to have some comics on hand and the recommendations were good, so I decided to try it out.

After a few months of dipping my toes into comics, I’ve discovered that I love using ComiXology for comics discovery, but despite great subscription options, I prefer read comics in trade editions.

Quick Notes on Terminology

If you’re not familiar with comics lingo, this video from Amanda Nelson at Book Riot is a good primer. Basically:

  • Single issue: What you think of when you think of comics, like a magazine, 30 or 40 pages, with one part of a serialized story.
  • Trade paperback: Several single issues bound together in a single paperback. Spoiler alert, this is my favorite format for comics.
  • Deluxe edition: Several trade paperbacks bound together into a fancy hardcover book. These often have lots of cool extras.

Comics Discovery on ComiXology

rat queensI really love that you can buy single issues of a comic for anywhere between $.99 and $2.99 through the ComiXology app. These single issues are usually around 30 pages and help me get a sense of whether a comic is something I’ll enjoy reading. And I love when I can catch up with a series by reading several single issues in a row, like I’ve been doing with Rat Queens and Sex Criminals.

I read most comics on my tablet (Samsung Galaxy Note). It’s big enough that I can look at full pages if I want to, but one of my favorite features of the ComiXology app is their “Guided View” technology. Basically, instead of showing full pages, the app will slides you through one frame at a time the comic book. I love this feature – for me, it makes a page of text and images seem a little less intimidating.

Advancing to Trades 

Once I’m caught up with a series, I find single issues frustrating. ComiXology does make it easy to subscribe to a story – it’ll automatically purchase each new issue when it comes out and send you a notification when there’s a new issue available. I tried doing that with Saga after I got caught up with the entire run, but it just wasn’t very satisfying.

Single issues remind me of an episode of a television show – without another episode soon after, I lose threads of the story and can’t enjoy it as easily. I’d much rather buy five or six single issues bound together in a trade edition – they’re great digitally, and fun to buy in hard copy as well, if it’s a series I know that I like.

ComiXology (and comics publishers) is pretty great at offering sales on some of their different titles, which can make it inexpensive to jump in and try something new. This week, for instance, Boom Studios is having a sale on comics with strong leading ladies – I grabbed Steed and Mrs. Peel Vol. 1, The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, Supurbia Vol. 1 (all trade editions) and Hacktivist #1 (a single issue) for less than $15 total.

Stand Alone Stories and My Library

y the last manAnother place where I have been exploring comics for free is through my local library, which has a pretty decent collection to choose from and connections to a well-stocked library system.

Most of the comics available at the library are trade editions, stand alone graphic novels or graphic memoirs, or deluxe editions. Through the library I’ve been reading Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man series in the deluxe editions and have plans to pick up several others I’ve seen on the shelves – The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff, Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang, and This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.

One of the areas I want to start exploring more is (you guessed it!) nonfiction comics. I know that there’s a pretty extensive range of graphic memoirs – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, Blankets by Craig Thompson, Tangles by Sarah Leavitt – but I’m not sure what offerings there are for more traditional nonfiction told through comics. I’m going to keep looking for those options because I’ve had so much fun jumping into the world of comics.

What are some of your favorite comics or graphic novels?

 

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Currently | Watching More Than Reading

August 24, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // 8:30 a.m. in my living room Eating and Drinking // I decided to officially start on my first attempt at a Whole30 this morning, so breakfast was two eggs, fruit, coconut flakes and water. I need to go some meal planning today. Reading // I’ve had a slow reading week. I […]

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Have a Listen: ‘Unbroken’ and ‘Detroit’

August 19, 2014 Book Review

This weekend, a friend asked me for a recommendation for a happy book. As I thought through the nonfiction I’ve read recently, I realized that most of it has been kind of depressing. But that’s one of the reasons I love good nonfiction — authors often tackle stories that are hard to read but need to be told. […]

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Currently | A Weekend at Home

August 17, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // 9:30 a.m. at my desk in my office (an actual separate room) in our new house. Last weekend, I was in the Twin Cities to cheer on my friend Erin in a half marathon. Then on Wednesday, I had to drive to the Cities again for a training. I put a lot […]

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Books I Bought in August (So Far)

August 13, 2014 Musings

I was really good about not buying more books in the month or so up to our move at the beginning of the month… but then I sort of lost my mind and bought a ton of new books. In my defense, I got to visit three different bookstores when I was in the Twin […]

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8 Tips for Moving When You Have a Ton of Books

August 6, 2014 Musings

This post originally appeared on Book Riot. I wrote it as I was preparing to move and, now that I’m nearing the end of the unpacking phase, I can tell you that the tip about reusable grocery bags (included in #3) is the best one in the bunch. Being a mobile book hoarder can be a challenge. […]

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Currently | Settling In

August 3, 2014 Uncategorized

Currently, I’m sitting on my couch, looking at my partially-arranged living room, imagining how I’m going to arrange all of my books around the tv. Yesterday was our big move day, which went amazingly smoothly thanks to the generosity of family and friends. The house is still a disaster, but it’s quiet and cool and […]

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July 2014 Reading Wrap-Up and Look to August

July 31, 2014 Monthly Review

Whew, I can’t believe July is over. It feels like a crazy busy month, what with my birthday and traveling and signing a lease on a new rental house. I’m still sort of shaking my head and wondering how it went by so quickly. With all of that, I still managed to finish a ton […]

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On Liking, Not Loving, ‘Bad Feminist’

July 29, 2014 Book Review

I want to get on the bandwagon of people who have loved Roxane Gay’s debut essay collection, Bad Feminist (Aug. 5 from Harper Perennial), so bad that I’ve been tossing and turning my lukewarm reaction to the book around in my head for a couple of weeks, trying to figure out what I might be […]

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